FDA Declares Chocolate a Vegetable
Redesigns Food Plate Guidelines
April 1, 2017
The FDA in conjunction with the USDA, unveiled the newest Food Plate guidelines in a White House press conference earlier today. The change comes with a tasty addition: chocolate. Citing 401 independent studies on the compounds of chocolate, the newly appointed FDA Commissioner, nominated under President Trump, declared chocolate has met the federal guidelines for being a vegetable.
The news is of no surprise for chocolate professionals, chefs and restaurant owners, all of whom were tipped off days ahead of the press conference so they may begin to make plans for the big change to their nutrition labels and in house menus.
With new nutrition label requirements regarding fats, sugars and calories slated to be fully effective in 2018, another new requirement will be added to the latest regulations. In addition to the new Food Plate guidelines, nutrition labels will also need to include a line that clearly states if the product meets the FDA minimum requirements for chocolate consumption. The minimum guidelines have been changed to a minimum of 2% cocoa powder, paste or cocoa beans. Any product not meeting the minimum will need to add a sentence stating, “This product is not a significant source of chocolate.”
White chocolate lovers received a setback with the new regulations. The FDA made clear today that the presence of only cocoa butter without cocoa paste will not be classified as a vegetable; therefore, products featuring only cocoa butter will not meet the 2% minimum.
Restaurant owners in NYC have already begun revamping their menus to include squares of dark chocolate as a side dish to their entrees. The Killer Bee in Tribeca, known for their honey glazed pork loin with collard greens, will be adding shaved chocolate to both their cooked greens and house salads. Fool’s Gold in Manhattan’s Upper East Side is eliminating Brussels sprouts entirely to make room for their newest creation, chocolate fries with a crumbled Feta topping.
This latest news has mobilized coffee advocacy groups. A march on Washington, organized by Coffee Beans of America, is set for May 1 to protest the inclusion of cocoa beans in the government guidelines, without regard to coffee beans. The group argues that both beans grow on trees in hot climates and therefore both should be included in the newest federal guidelines. Coffee Beans of America intends to take their appeal all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
The FDA advises Americans to begin adding more chocolate to their diet in modest amounts throughout the day, but should consult their physicians before making major changes to their diet or exercise plans.